A clash between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets, two Eastern Conference title contenders riddled with All-Stars and former MVPs, is on the horizon. Brooklyn defeated the Boston Celtics last night, sending them home in five games. To the surprise of many, the Bucks swept the reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat and now head to The Big Apple to take on the Nets.
The Bucks will look for a better result than last year�s disappointing 4-1 series loss to the Heat in the semifinals. Fans are more hopeful this season, with Milwaukee having defeated Miami this postseason. Point guard Jrue Holiday�s outstanding play was the catalyst of the team�s impressive performance in the first round. Milwaukee gave up a ton of assets to acquire Holiday this past offseason.
He gives the Bucks a legitimate third option alongside reigning MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo and two-time all-star Khris Middleton. Scoring and playmaking from players outside of Middleton and Antetokounmpo are elements the team lacked last year.
While he didn�t shoot the ball particularly well in Round 1, Holiday was impactful with per-game averages of 15.3 points, 9.8 assists, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. The Bucks dominated both offensively and defensively against the Heat, with an average winning margin of just over 20 points a game.
Revamped Bucks vs. Nets� Firepower
The Nets disposed of the Celtics in relatively short order aside from one 50 point outburst from Jayson Tatum in Game 3, the only game Boston won. Brooklyn�s success will hinge on their �Big 3�: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.
Analysts raise chemistry issues as a potential concern for Brooklyn. Durant, Irving, and Harden played just eight games together during the regular season due to injuries and absences. Those issues were not evident in the first-round series against Boston, where the three stars together averaged a whopping 85.2 points per game.
The Bucks versus Nets matchup has the making of a compelling series. The three games played during the regular season were all tightly contested. Although, in fairness, the Nets were missing at least one of their superstars in all three matchups.
Regardless, the Bucks are a deep and well-rounded squad led by Antetokounmpo, who made bringing a championship to Milwaukee his top priority when he signed a supermax contract before the season. Adding Jrue Holiday makes the team a favorite to win it all. Nevertheless, it will take a monstrous effort to slow down the Nets, who have three of the most dynamic scorers in NBA history.
Game 1 tips off on Saturday, June 5th at 7:30 PM on TNT.